In the present time of 2017, America is quite possibly at it’s peak of experiencing unlawful injustices against civilians. The relationship between police officer and the general public in the past two to three decades has not been a positive one. Bursting with bubbling tension, the factions domesticating America has adopted the identity of “us against them” with no sight of changing anytime soon.
Rewind 10 years prior and enter the story of Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin; two men who were executives of the Village Voice Media in Arizona unlawfully handcuffed and arrested by a nefariously behaved sheriff named Joe Arpaio. Sheriff Joe Arpaio personally declared himself “America’s Toughest Sheriff” living up to his title by getting his “Selective Enforcement Unit” to arrest two media journalist.
And for what reason? Writing of course.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio was suspected to be involved in some shady operations in his county’s office. When the Phoenix New Times stories ousted his unfavorable actions(mismanagement of money, retaliation against critics, and unsafe jail conditions), needless to say he became frustrated.
Lacey and Larkin wrote a cover story for the Phoenix New Times exposing how the Sheriff wrongfully subpoenaed for information about the newspaper’s employees, specific content created, and sensitive information. The subpoenas were grand jury regulated to apply tons of pressure to those affiliated and directly employed with the Phoenix New Times. It would seem intimidation and fear would be “America’s Toughest Sheriff” greatest weapons of demonization.
Invalidation and Increase
As with many offenses caught in the line of sight by the social masses, this is another situation declared “foul” as a result of pettiness and power corruption. The sheriff did very little to mask his disdain for his critics by arresting them without probable cause. This would involve prosecution ignoring certain legal procedures when distributing the grand jury served subpoenas. Such performance is unprofessional and unbecoming of a prosecutor.
Due to the invalidation of the grand jury subpoenas, Lacey and Larking were released from custody 24 hours after their arrest. The case making its way to appellate court brought fourth a settlement awarding Lacy and Larkin $3.7 million in 2013. This hefty pay day would soon give way to financial support now known as the Frontera Fund.
For all intended purposes, the money is used to edify and improve the Hispanic community who may or may not have experienced civilian hardships in Arizona. Despite, the money is put to good use for Hispanic immigrants to properly transition into Arizona for better economical and lifestyle opportunities.
Still Rousing the Rabble
In 1970, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were two Arizona State University dropouts with a burning need to rouse the rabble and annoy the powers that be. Through their alternative weekly newspaper, The Phoenix New Times, they presented the news with a decidedly left-wing, defend the First Amendment at all costs, slant. When it came to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, they were, in Michael Lacey’s words, “a constant thorn in his side.”
The Phoenix New Times made an entire industry out of exposing instances of brutality in the Maricopa County Jail and acts of revenge against anyone Arpaio perceived as an enemy. They saved singular interest in Arpaio’s efforts to curry favor with Maricopa County voters by violating the civil rights of Hispanics. Given Sheriff Arpaio’s propensity to angrily overreact to the slightest transgression against him, and the pair’s need to harass him, the population of Maricopa County waited for the inevitable explosion.
It came in October 2007. Late one night, the pair were arrested, handcuffed, and hustled to jail in unmarked SUVs with tinted windows and Mexican license plates. In the aftermath, Maricopa County settled a false arrest lawsuit for $3.75 million. A large part of the money went to establish the Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund, an umbrella organization supporting migrant rights in Arizona. After selling the Phoenix New Times and its parent company to its senior management, Lacey and Larkin continued defending the First Amendment with an online medium called Front Page Confidential. No longer bound by the need for a physical presence, the pair continue their quest using the power and reach of the internet.